Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Moon, starring Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), explores identity, isolation and mortality in the backwater lunar mining colony of the near future.

The opening credits are a bit glam, with an in-your-face name drop of "Kevin Spacey as the voice of Gerty" slapped all over the screen in CGI text. After that, it is engaging, mysterious and patient, as though something is going to happen, eventually, and the waiting for it promises tension, suspense, and profundity. However, the build up is prematurely satisfied - narrative overtaking implication - so by the end of the film the layers of closure have gagged your imagination. Let me explain with a parallel. Picture a complicated pregnancy in which the father questions his membership. He is driven insane with jealousy, questions his wife’s loyalty, and is eventually proven wrong by the colour of his child’s eyes/skin/etc. Okay, that’s a shit story, but you get the picture. In another version, some doctors do a few scans after four weeks and everything is revealed eight months in advance. One version is more dramatic. Moon is closer to the latter.

That’s normally the kind of thing that kills a story-driven flick. Moon was rescued from that fate for lots of reasons. First off, there was the homage motif. A HAL style thinking robot, chunky NASA lettering and retro, anarchistic positivism. It makes you think that this film should definitely have been made. In fact, it makes you think it already has been made, back in the late 70s when sci-fi was actually intelligent. Second, you’ve got Sam Rockwell acting mental. Always good to watch. It’s just one of those things that works. Lastly, Moon is not exclusively a narrative. Sometimes you watch a film and you come away going ‘I dunno what that meant, but it makes me feel’. Like Mulholland Drive or Waking Life. They have a sort of poetry, where the texture of the story binds slow, ponderous innards, like the turbulent crests on a noisy sea. Moon seems to have one foot in poetry, the other in spectacle, straddling the line comfortably but making inevitable compromise. You come away going, 'I know what that film was about and it makes me feel... but I wish it made me feel more.'

If you told me you were on your way out to see it and you'd just puffed out your umbrella, I wouldn't tell you to change your mind. It's a digestible, engaging tale, suitable for an evening of light reflection. It won't offend anyone. It's not a waste of time. However, it’s probably not a sci-fi legend, at least not with the first viewing. Perhaps it needs a second chance. I think that kind of sums it up.

DIARIT: 7.5/10

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